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C.L.R. James
World Revolution 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International

Introduction to 1993 Humanities Press Edition

Al Richardson

CLR James' World Revolution, here presented in a new edition, was one of the few
attempts made at the time to synthesise the experience of the revolutionary movement
following the First World War. In judging its significance, both in its own time and for ours,
it is worth bearing in mind the circumstances that gave rise to it.
The sheer weight of the apparatus of the Soviet Union and of the Comintern had
established a virtual monopoly over Marxist thought by the mid 1930s. Dissident currents,
whether of 'right' (Bukharinist or Brandlerite) or of 'left' coloration (Bordigist, Korschite or
Trotskyist) had been successfully marginalised and reduced to small group existence by
massive propaganda, gangsterism or terror.
Early in 1934 a dozen or so members of the Communist League, the first British Trotskyist
organisation, at the instigation of Denzil Harber and Stewart Kirby and with Trotsky's
support, had left the parent body to set up a faction, later called the Marxist Group, inside
the Independent Labour Party, which had itself parted company with the Labour Party a
couple of years earlier. By this time CLR James had already arrived in Britain and had made
contact with members of the Labour Party in Nelson in Lancashire, but when he came
down to live in Boundary Road in north west London he was recruited into the Trotskyist
movement and joined the Marxist Group working in the ILP.1
In both groups the British Trotskyists were very few in number at the time he encountered
them, and whilst the main body had with difficulty been able to sustain a monthly printed
paper from 1933 onwards, the entrist organisation in the ILP had only been able to issue a
few duplicated pamphlets, and, to put over their viewpoint, had been obliged to sell the
Militant, a journal published by their American co-thinkers.
Trotskyism was not a popular standpoint during the mid 1930s in Britain. The wider
Labour movement was more defensive than ever and was still recovering painfully from
the split in the Labour Party at the time of the formation of the National Government in
1931. At the same time the Communist party was itself just recuperating from its
reduction to the rank of a tiny sect during the "Third Period" of the Comintern, and was

enjoying a period of rapid growth. The increase in the power of Nazi Germany made the
USSR seem an attractive ally, even in some establishment circles, and the adoption of the
policy of the Popular Front enabled the party to make a far wider appeal than it had ever
done before, setting the tone for the ideological life of the left for the next decade. The
Communist Party was able to infiltrate or take over existing organisations, such as the
Labour Party's student and youth groups, and to form a number of satellite bodies
catering for the different interest groups in society.
The most effective of these was the Left Book Club, which came to enjoy a circulation of
57,000 and which was founded in May 1936 in partnership with the publisher Gollancz.
Many of its titles were pure Soviet propaganda at its most mendacious, and of a virulently
anti-Trotskyist character into the bargain, such books as Dudley Collard's Soviet Justice
and the Trial of Radek and Others, the Webbs' Soviet Communism : A New Civilisation, and
JR Campbell's Soviet Policy and Its Critics.
The Club's major programmatic book justifying the foreign policy of the Soviet Union,
World Politics, 1918-1936, written by the Communist Party's most cynical theorist, R.
Palme Dutt, appeared in 1936. Unable to match anything like these resources, the British
Trotskyists felt very much on the defensive, so CLR James decided to use his contacts with
a rival publisher to try to mount a counter-operation. As he later described it,
"There were no books in English, only pamphlets, so after a time I said 'Why haven't we a
book in English?', and they said that it was about time they had one. I finally picked myself
up and got hold of Frederick Warburg .... I told Warburg and he thought that there was
scope for the publication of books that were Marxist but not C.P. So I went away to
Brighton and wrote this book in three or four months".2
Although oral tradition in South Wales in the 1960s still pointed to a house where
allegedly James worked on the book while campaigning down there for the ILP at the time
of the Abyssinian War, it was largely put together, as he says, on the south coast. The local
Communist Party bookshop in Brighton served as the basis for some of his material,
though for many of his earlier sources he had to rely upon French and American nonStalinist Marxists, and particularly upon the rich collection brought back by Harry Wicks
from his course at the Lenin School in Moscow, whose expertise he thanks in his preface.3
The book finally came out in early 19374 to a less than enthusiastic reception. In the press
dominated by them the Communist Party refused even to allow advertisements for it5
and, where in the nature of the case they were obliged to recognise its existence, such as
in Gollancz's Left Book Club, they attacked it with great hostility.6 No less hostile was the
reaction of the British colonial authorities, who forbade the export of copies to India.7

This did not prevent it from being smuggled in and exercising some influence. G
Selvarajatnan, later leader of the great strike in the Madras textile mills was converted to
Trotskyism upon reading it, and Leslie Goonewardene's Rise and Fall of the Comintern
published ten years afterwards in Bombay was largely based on it.8
It has continued to suffer from neglect, being the least disseminated and commented
upon of all James' full length works, and the residue of Stalinist hostility towards it
remains, even in New Left circles who are otherwise inclined to idolise its author. For
James' biographer, Paul Buhl, it is "James' least original major work", its "dogmatic
weakness" being that it makes Stalinism "the deus ex machina for the failure of world
Such criticisms are based upon the view that World Revolution is largely a summary of the
world view of Trotsky and the movement that followed him, Buhl for example seeing only
in James' treatment of the German crisis any differences with Trotsky.10 As a matter of
fact, the book is far more original than it is given credit for, and neither James nor Trotsky
regarded themselves as being in agreement over the basic argument contained in it. As
James himself recalled,
"When I began to attack the Trotskyist position, some people in the United States said,
'when we read your book World Revolution we said that it won't be long before James is
attacking the Trotskyist movement'. In this book it was pointed out to me in a particular
paragraph. I agreed with the interpretation. I was told, "James, when some of us read that
quotation, we said that ultimately James will go".11
These doubts were also shared by Trotsky himself. Whilst calling World Revolution "a very
good book", he criticised it for "a lack of dialectical approach", considering that James'
theory of the development of Soviet politics wanted "to begin with the degeneration
complete". Whilst James' chapter on the German events of 1923 is entitled Stalin Kills the
German Revolution, Trotsky argued to the contrary that "the German revolution had more
influence on Stalin than Stalin on the German Revolution. In 1923 the whole party was in a
fever over the coming revolution". Whilst considering the incredible policy of the German
Communist Party during the accession of Hitler to power ten years later, James asks
himself "Why did Stalin persist in this policy? How could the Soviet bureaucracy possibly
conceive that any useful purpose could be served by letting Hitler into Power?". Trotsky
on the other hand argued that in fact "Stalin hoped that the German Communist Party
would win a victory, and to think that he had a "plan" to allow Fascism to come to power
is absurd".12 This suggestion, that the blunders of the Comintern and the KPD during
1930-3 were part of a deliberate plan was to occasion considerable embarrassment to the
British Trotskyists, for it was immediately seized upon by their Communist opponents to

discredit the book.13 Trotsky thus considered that the weakness of James' book consisted
in its not allowing for the development of Soviet politics, of allowing no movement within
them, and of telescoping effect and intention, a sort of historical post hoc propter hoc
The reason for this difference becomes apparent when we examine the secondary sources
used by James in the construction of the book, and the major models that influenced his
thought world at the time. We can dismiss straight away the suggestion made in Paul
Buhl's book, that he was indebted in any way to the "proletarian science" developed in
the British Communist Party.14 These were precisely the people against whom he was
polemicising. His main historical models were the classical historians, and the great
modern historians of the classical world, such as Grote, whose works remained upon his
bookshelf up to his death. They also included the classic Marxist histories, particularly The
Eighteenth Brumaire which James regarded as "an indispensable book for the student of
any period of History" (p.32n.1 below), and Trotsky's My Life and the History of the
Russian Revolution. We know that at the same time he was reading the works of the great
French radical historians about the revolution of 1789 as preliminary research for his own
future book, Black Jacobins (cf. pp.22-5 below). He must also have been acquainted with
the historical labours of FA Ridley, for whom he maintained an affection to the end of his
life, since they were both being published by Secker and Warburg at about the same time.
But it is the literature of the French and American non-Stalinist and non-Trotskyist left that
supplies the key to understanding the distinctive features of World Revolution in that it
shares the common assumption that the degeneration of the Russian Revolution began
much earlier and proceeded at a more rapid rate that Trotsky would allow. One reference
shows that James was acquainted with the literature of the Que Faire15 group, and we
may note that Souvarine's book, which he often cites, supported the Kronstadt
insurrection against Soviet power as early as 1921.16 We know from other indications
that at this time James was already acquainted with the "State Capitalist" theories about
the USSR held by the French Union Communiste group led by Henri Chaz,17 as well as
being in touch with some of BJ Field's supporters in Canada, and conversant with the
material of Weisbord, Oehler, and Erwin Ackernecht.18 James was particularly open to
theories of the sort dismissed at the time by Trotskyists as "ultra left", for after a long and
sterile experience with entry activity within the ILP he had come to reject the tactic of
entry altogether, refused to join the group that was pursuing such a course in the Labour
Party, and had entered into a dispute with the Trotskyist International Secretariat on this
basis.19 After a fragile unity was forced upon the British groups in 1938 he was sent to the
USA, partly to give a free run to his longstanding opponent Denzil Harber, and partly to
"straighten him out".20 The distinctive position of World Revolution thus lies in the fact

that its author was already in the process of rejecting Trotskyism, and his ideas were
about to evolve towards the position he assumed during the Cannon-Shachtman conflict
of 1939-40, and later in his State Capitalism and World Revolution of 1950, a political
stance described by Robin Blackburn as "Anarcho-Bolshevism" (whatever that means).21
During the period that James was writing this book, there was, in fact, in both the United
States and France, an entire left-wing thought world of groups who vied with each other
to place the degeneration of Bolshevism and Marxism as early in time as possible
(Oehlerites, Stammites, Eiffelites, Marlenites, etc, in the USA and in France, Cahiers
Spartacus, Que Faire and the Union Communiste). It was a natural result of the disillusion
produced among the left at the time by the rise of both Stalinism and Nazism, a
pessimistic feeling that there was something deeply wrong with Marxism as they had
inherited it. Although World Revolution is still quite close to the more recognisably
'Trotskyist' approach to these questions, it shows significant influences from this spectrum
of ideas, and in effect stands at the beginning of CLR James' own gradual evolution in this
A proper assessment of the value of the book can only be made in the light of historical
experience, both of that which took place at the time and of later developments, for this is
the only valid test of any social theory. Like any other book it is by no means infallible and
our increased understanding of some of these past events inevitably shows shortcomings.
In spite of the views of some modern commentators22 the subsequent history of the
German USPD shows that Rosa Luxemburg was not "mistaken" in arguing that the
Spartakists should remain inside it.23 James' description of the foundation of the
Comintern (p.112-3) can no longer be accepted as it stands. Whilst admitting that "the
delegates were dissatisfied", and that it was formed "due primarily to Lenin", he comes to
the strange conclusion that, at the time, "Lenin had almost been betrayed against his
better judgement into a weak and vacillating position". In the light of evidence that has
since emerged it now seems clear that the dramatic appearance and speech of Gruber
(Steinhardt) had been arranged in order to stampede the delegates into reaching the
required decision.24 James' endorsement of the Comintern's verdict upon Paul Levi,
because the latter condemned the 1921 "March Action" as a putsch, does that
revolutionary less than justice.25 James' view that Stalin was responsible for holding back
the German Communist Party no longer receives uncritical support from historians of the
Comintern,26 and there is some evidence that Trotsky himself came to have doubts about
fixing the blame for any national errors on Brandler for the failure of October 1923
(p.187).27 Another of the myths of vulgar Trotskyism repeated here is that it was the
Troika who were responsible for sending the Chinese Communist Party into the
Guomindang, that "had Lenin been sitting as Chairman such an entry would never have
taken place"28, and that Trotsky had voted against it from the very first (pp.236-7, 248).29

Count Stenbock-Fermoy, (p.331) a great-nephew of Prince Kropotkin, wrote to Trotsky to

deny that he had joined the working-class movement to promote revanchist ideas.30
James' description of Nin, Maurin and Andrade as "prominent leaders of the Spanish
Revolution" (p.308) would in retrospect appear over optimistic.31 His acceptance of the
production figures of the first Five Year Plan (p.292) appears as naive in hindsight, while
time has dealt rather harshly with his remark that "if ever the Soviet Union goes down,
that is to say back to capitalism, collective ownership has demonstrated how much
capitalism retards the possibility of production". Here however he was in good company,
for not merely most socialists thought this but even a conservative such as Harold
Macmillan, as late as 1961, feared the dynamism of the Soviet economy.
Much more problematic remains James' view that the leaders of the Soviet Union were, as
already noted above, carrying through a conscious policy in encouraging the suicidal
behaviour of the German Communist Party in 1930-3. James links the deliberate policy of
undermining Social Democracy to the fact that its foreign policy orientation was
favourable to the "western" powers (p.337), whereas, as is well known, traditionally it is
the more right wing elements in German society who have favoured an alliance with
Russia. This is the view still supported by some historians - admittedly a minority, today.32
On the other hand when we consider the knowledge available at the time, the basic thesis
supported by the book stands up surprisingly well. Its opponents of the day, Dutt,
Strachey and the Webbs, could not be reprinted today without courting immediate
ridicule. Scarcely half a dozen of the huge output of the Left Book Club during the same
period is worth the shelf space in any Socialist library, and generally they pile up in the
dustier sections of second hand bookshops where they remain unsold. James' careful
handling of his documentation stands him in good stead. At one point he notes, "the
writer has used an (sic) Mss translation. Many of the most important articles by Lenin,
written after 1918, have to be tracked down in obscure publications or translated afresh.
The present Soviet regime does not publish them, or, when it does so, truncates them"
(p.132n.1). Since the revelations of Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" at the 20th Party
Congress of the Soviet Union in 1956 we are much better informed about these
documents.33 Yet a comparison of James' account of Lenin's last conflict with Stalin and
any modern treatment of the same subject, such as those of Moshe Lewin or Marcel
Liebman34 would not modify the picture presented by James (pp.134-140) in any
substantial way. He perceptively defines Trotskyism as a creation of Stalinism (p.151), and
marshals his facts carefully to establish the existence of the massive famine caused by
forced collectivisation (p.303), denied by virtually the entire range of left wing thought at
the time.

Even some of his short-term predictions are found to be surprisingly accurate. "The long
cold vistas of Siberia opened before Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky" he notes in 1929
(p.296), and, a year before the Trial of the Twenty-One, he asks "what insurance company
would risk a penny on Bukharin's life?" (p.199) Only a month after the appearance of
World Revolution the events of the first week of May 1937 in Barcelona bore out his
contention that "the day is near when the Stalinists will join reactionary governments in
shooting revolutionary workers. They cannot avoid it" (p.389). The first section of the
introduction to the book bears the subtitle The Coming War,35 and he prophesies that
Trotsky "may be murdered in Mexico" (p.407). Many of the main events that come later in
the wartime and post-war periods are sketched out quite adequately, such as that "the
victory of Fascism in Germany would mean inevitably war against the Soviet Union"
(p.320) and that "British capitalism, may despite all its efforts, be drawn into a war against
Germany side by side with the Soviet Union" (p.408). The end of the Comintern is
accurately foreseen as
"Stalin may even liquidate it altogether to assure the bourgeoisie that he will leave them
alone, if only they will leave him and his bureaucracy in peace. But he dare not do this
while Trotsky guides the Fourth International" (p.403).
Looking beyond the end of the Second World War James notes wisely that "the last war
brought the partial freedom of Ireland, a loosening of the chains of Egypt and an upheaval
in India which has seriously crippled the merciless exploitation of centuries. How long
could Britain's grip on India survive another war?" (p.10) For a brief moment the veil of
the future is even drawn aside for China, Korea and Indo-China: "in China and the Far East,
where Britain has so much at stake, capitalism is more unstable than anywhere else in the
world" (ibid).
Finally James' analysis of the Soviet Union bears an amazing freshness in view of the
events of the last three years. Speaking of the Soviet economy, he comments, "the whole
system would stand or fall by the increased productivity of labour .... if Lenin returned
today, he would not waste a minute on Stalin's propaganda, but would calculate the
income and expenditure per head of population and from it grasp at once the social and
political character of the regime" (p.122). Examining the presuppositions behind Lenin's
theory of imperialism, he goes on to say:
"If capitalism proved to be still progressive, then the Soviet Union was premature and
would undoubtedly fail. It was simple Marxism that the new Society could not exist for any
length of time unless the old had reached its limits. But the conflict was not a conflict of
entities already fixed. Capitalism in decay might still be powerful enough to overthrow the
first Socialist State, whence it would gain a longer lease of life" (pp.119-120).

We can only await the confirmation (or otherwise) of the grim prophecy that flows from
this: "If the Soviet Union goes down, then Socialism receives a blow which will cripple it
for a generation" (pp.418-19).
Thus it emerges that a book dismissed for its "dogmatic" weakness", despite being written
fifty-five years ago, still has lessons to teach us today if we read it in a fresh and critical
spirit, and we warmly recommend a careful study of it as we place it in the hands of a
public that, we are sure, will give it a better reception than when it first appeared.
Al Richardson
1. CLR James and British Trotskyism: An Interview, London, 1987, p.1. An amusing picture
of James' influence upon middle class opinion in the ILP at this time is to be found in Ethel
Mannin, Comrade, O Comrade, ch.x, pp.133-5.
2. CLR James and British Trotskyism, p.1. Among the non-Stalinist books that James was
able to influence Warburg to publish at this time were, in addition to his own, his
translation of Boris Souvarine's Stalin (1939), Mary Low and Juan Brea's Red Spanish
Notebook, recently republished unfortunately without James' original preface, Harold
Isaacs' Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (1938) and Albert Weisbord's Conquest of Power
(1938). Warburg of course, far more than Gollancz, was open to texts which came from
the general left or ILP milieu and among his list at this period were Brockway's Workers
Front and both Next Year's War and the Papacy and Fascism by FA Ridley, as well as the
first edition of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia which Gollancz had rejected as being too
critical of the Communist Party's line
3. Below, p.xii; cf. Harry Wicks, 1905-1989: A Memorial, London 1989, pp.3, 8, & 14. For
examples of the sort of material provided, cf. below, p.132n.1 and 179n.1.
4. It is advertised in Fight, Vol.i, no.5 for April 1937.
5. Martin Secker and Warburg, "Letter to the Editor", 30th April 1937, in Fight, Vol.i, no.7,
June 1937.
6. RF Andrews (Andrew Rothstein), "Leninism Trotskified" in Left News, June 1937, pp.2918. Gollancz's own opinion was that "a Trotskyist book falls as obviously outside the scope
of the Club's publications as does a Nazi or Fascist book" (New Leader, vol.xxi, new series
no.178, 11th June, 1937).
7. George Padmore, letter to Tribune, 10th September, 1937, p.13.

8. K Tilak, Rise and Fall of the Comintern, Spark Syndicate, Bombay, December 1947.
9. Paul Buhl CLR James: The Artist as Revolutionary, London 1988, pp.51-2. Contrast with
this James comment on p.159, below: "There is a tendency among Trotskyists to
exaggerate the economic and social influences at work in the Trotsky-Stalin struggle in
1923". Other examples of Buhl's anti-Trotskyist bias need not detain us here ("A paroxysm
of rage at Stalin", "overly subjective, obsessed with details at the expense of the larger
picture", "with minor possible exceptions such as Trotskyists in Ceylon, only the activity of
James himself forcefully joined anti-imperialism with Trotskyism", etc). They have been
commented upon by Charles van Gelderen in "CLR" Socialist Outlook, April 1989.
10. op. cit, Note 9 above, p.52.
11. op. cit, Note 1 above, p.9.
12. LD Trotsky "On the History of the Left Opposition", April 1939 in Writings of Leon
Trotsky, 1938-39, New York, 1974, pp.260-66. cf. CLR James below, pp.164-201, 335.
13. JR Campbell, in Controversy, vol.i, no.8, May 1937, p.36.
14. Buhl, op. cit, Note 9 above, pp.45-47. Here, as is evident from his preface, he has been
misled by his English informants, principally Robin Blackburn of New Left Review. Even less
relevant are references (p.58) to Christopher Hill, who in spite of his expressed admiration
for Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution today (Sunday Times, 18 August, 1985), was
busy, at the time indicated, writing a book about Lenin and the Russian Revolution which
effectively censored Trotsky out of it.
15. The Que Faire group was formed in France in 1934 from ex-Stalinists and exTrotskyists, such as Kurt Landau, and set out to trace back the degeneration of the Russian
Revolution from its earliest stages. The group finally united with Social Democracy in
16. Souvarine talks about the "Kronstadt commune" and "the legitimate character of the
rebels' claims" on pp.276 and 279 of Stalin. Trotsky described Souvarine's theory as a
"search for an independent line running directly from Marx to himself, bypassing Lenin
and Bolshevism" (letter to Victor Serge, 29th April, 1936, in Writings of Leon Trotsky: A
Supplement, 1934-40, New York, 1979, p.659), and Souvarine himself as the archetype of
a "gangrenous sceptic". James himself notes Souvarine's "anarchist bias against the
dictatorship of the proletariat" (below p.140n.2; cf. also p.309).


17. Description of a meeting with CLR James on 10th October, 1937 by Ernie Rogers,
"Letter to Jimmy Allen" in The Trotskyist Movement and the Leninist League, London,
1986, p.7.
18. Op. cit, Note 17 above; Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson Against the Stream, London,
1986, pp.256, 287.
19. Op. cit, Note 17 above: "there would have to be a struggle in the International League;
efforts would have to be made to alter the line of the I(nternational) S(ecretariat). I told
him that this had already been attempted and had been met with Stalinist methods;
suppression, hooliganism. He (James) interjected and said that there was nothing we
could say against the I.S. with which he could not agree. He knew all about them .... He
asked Frost (Max Basch), a member of the EC, to provide him with the documents
published by Oehler on the question, also the internal bulletin published by the Sec. on
the French turn".
20. Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson War and the International, London, 1986, p.24.
21. Robin Blackburn, "CLR James" (Obituary), in The Independent, 2nd June, 1989. Cf. the
remark made by James about Trotsky's rejection of democratic centralism in 1903 on p.49
below: "He has since admitted that he was wrong; too generously, for the question is not
so simple". In view of Trotsky's stated opinion about this conflict, the whole discussion
that follows this comment (p.49-53) shows how far James was, already by 1937, at
variance with Trotsky.
22. Chris Harman, The Lost Revolution: Germany 1918 to 1923, London, 1982, pp.19-20,
88, 95.
23. Cf. Rob Sewell, Germany: From Revolution to Counter-Revolution, London 1988, pp.334; Mike Jones, "The Decline, Disorientation and Decomposition of a Leadership: The
German Communist Party; From Revolutionary Marxism to Centrism", in Revolutionary
History, Vol.ii, no.3, p.2. Cf. below, p.95.
24. Referring to Angelica Balabanoff, Impressions of Lenin, Ann Arbour, 1968, pp.69-70,
Walter Kendall comes to the conclusion that "the whole affair is so dramatic as to suggest
stage management" (The Revolutionary Movement in Britain, 1900-1921, London, 1969,
p.226). The case is established beyond all reasonable doubt in his as yet unpublished MSS,
World Revolution: The Russian Revolution and the Communist International, 1898-1935, to
which I am greatly indebted.


25. "Mere condemnation of thousands of proletarians who risk their lives against the
bourgeoisie has never been tolerated by Marxists", p.169 below. Cf. Mike Jones op. cit,
Note 23 above pp.5-7.
26. Pierre Brou, "The Communist International and the German Crisis of 1923", address
to the AGM of Revolutionary History, 20th May, 1989 (as yet unpublished); cf. LD Trotsky,
op. cit. Note 12 above, p.260.
27. Cf Mike Jones, op. cit, Note 23, pp.8-9; He refers to Jacob Walcher's "Notes on
Discussions with Trotsky", 17th-20th August 1933, published in the Oeuvres, vol.ii. This
text recently came to light in the SAP archives in Sweden and only became known after
the publication of the Pathfinder English edition of the works of Trotsky's last exile. It is
hoped to put an English translation into general circulation in the near future. For
Trotsky's later return to his original opinion, cf. "On the History of the Left Opposition",
April, 1939, in Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1938-39, New York, 1974, p.261.
28. On the strategy as a whole cf. Michael Cox's verdict: "The general strategy developed
by the Comintern by 1923 and 1924 was unambiguously bourgeois democratic. I can find
no suggestion of any serious attempt to pose or even discuss the possibility of proletarian
dictatorship, as a solution to the tasks of the anti-imperialist struggle in the colonies. That
is, a well developed stages conception of the colonial revolution preceded Stalinism", See
"The National and Colonial Question - The First Five Years on the Comintern, 1919-22", in
Searchlight South Africa, no.4, February 1990, p.38.
29. Trotsky himself put various dates upon his support for the withdrawal of the Chinese
Communists from the Guomindang. In a letter written in December 1930 he claimed that
he had done so "from the very beginning, that is, from 1923" ("Letter to Max Shachtman,
10th December 1930 in Leon Trotsky on China, New York 1976, p.490), but in My Life
written a year earlier he says that it was "since 1925" (Penguin edition, Harmondsworth,
1975, p.552). "As a matter of fact" notes Paolo Casciola, "despite these assertions, no
documents preceding the spring of 1927 are available in which Trotsky called for a
withdrawal of the Chinese Communist Party from the Kuomintang" Trotsky and the
Struggles of the Colonial Peoples, Centro Pietro Tresso, Foligno, 1990, pp.11-12.
30. Cahiers Leon Trotsky, no.36, Dec 1968, pp.51-3.
31. Cf. The Spanish Civil War: The View from the Left, Socialist Platform, 1992, for rather
damming counter evidence.


32. Thomas Wiengartner, Stalin und der Aufstieg Hitlers, Berlin 1970, cf. the references
given in A Westoby, Communism since World War II, Brighton 1981, p.410n.28, especially
Robert Black, Fascism in Germany, London, 1975, vol.ii, pp.749-55, 858-60.
33. Mostly to be found in vol.xxxiii of the 1966 English edition of Lenin's Collected Works,
along with the material in L. Fotieva's Pages from Lenin's Life, Moscow, 1960.
34. Moshe Lewin, Lenin's Last Struggle, London, 1969; Marcel Liebman, Leninism under
Lenin, London 1975, pp.417-25.
35. Obviously many of these forecasts derive from the common stock of analyses James
had at his disposal in the Trotskyist movement. We should remind ourselves that Trotsky
himself, two years before the Second World War broke out, prophesied its outbreak to
within a month (Daniel Gurin, "Trotsky and the Second World War" part.ii, in
Revolutionary History, vol.iii, no.4, p.13), and that other writers acquainted with Trotskyist
ideas such as FA Ridley, had sketched out the main lines of the coming conflict in such
books as Next Years's War, which Secker and Warburg had published a year before James'
book appeared.